Dublin, Republic of Ireland, 2 December 2019 – Boehringer Ingelheim announced the launch of the Respimat® reusable inhaler in Ireland, which could lead to over 112,500 fewer inhalers being disposed of each year.[i] The first soft mist, reusable inhaler is now available for use with up to six refill cartridges, no longer disposed of and replaced each time the medication runs out. Respimat® has always been propellant-free but by using the reusable inhaler with six refill cartridges (rather than six of the previous disposable inhalers with one cartridge each), the product carbon footprint is reduced by 71%.[ii] Respimat® reusable delivers the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) medications tiotropium/olodaterol (Spiolto®▼), olodaterol (Striverdi®▼) and tiotropium (Spiriva®),[iv],[v],[vi] as well as the asthma medication tiotropium (Spiriva®).
Asthma and COPD affect over 490,000 people in Ireland[vii],[viii] and chronic lower respiratory disease, which includes COPD and asthma, is the fourth most common cause of death.[ix] Nurses and pharmacists are likely to see people with COPD and asthma more regularly than a GP or specialist, so they play a pivotal role in educating patients on their medicines and inhaler technique, whether this is part of routine practice or a specialist commissioned pharmacy-based inhaler technique check service.[x],[xi]
Ireland had the third highest emission of greenhouse gases per capita in the EU in 2017.[xii] The HSE’s Sustainability Strategy for Health outlines its commitment to reducing carbon emissions and delivering low carbon quality sustainable healthcare.iii A recent study highlighted that the carbon footprint of the original, disposable Respimat® is approximately 20 times smaller than that of pressurised metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs)[xiii] and the transition to Respimat® reusable has the potential to reduce this by an additional 71%.ii,xiii
Professor Richard Costello, Professor of Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland commented, “This move to a reusable Respimat® inhaler is positive for the environment, with patients able to reduce the number of inhalers used from 12 to two per year. As prescribers in respiratory medicine, we are aware of the environmental impact of medicines, including their carbon emissions and plastic waste. I welcome developments towards more environmentally friendly options with a significantly reduced product carbon footprint to help support HSE targets in the Sustainability Strategy for Health.”
Dr Tim Crossman, Head of Medical Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim UK & Ireland added, “Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to sustainable healthcare, and we recognise the need to reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions. We are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of the medicines we develop and hope that the introduction of this reusable inhaler is seen as a positive step in reducing the carbon footprint of inhalers.”
This inhaler is a reusable version of Boehringer Ingelheim’s well-established Respimat® (disposable) soft mist inhaler and was introduced following patient and healthcare professional feedback. Nurses, pharmacists and patients will be familiar with the day-to-day use of Respimat® reusable which remains the same for patients; indications for prescribing, recommended dose, and the safety and efficacy profile of the inhalers remain unchanged.
Prescribing and dispensing of Respimat® inhalers will change so that a patient’s initial prescription pack contains one inhaler plus one cartridge, followed by packs containing just one refill cartridge. At six months, the patient will once again receive one inhaler plus one cartridge. The dose counter has been improved – it is larger and more clearly shows when the medication is running low and needs to be replaced.ii The clear base of the Respimat® reusable inhaler automatically detaches when the cartridge is empty as a clear indication to the patient of when the cartridge needs to be replaced.ii
Boehringer Ingelheim has created dedicated educational websites for healthcare professionals and patients to find out more about the change in order to support the transition to Respimat® reusable. For more information, please visit: www.medical.respimat.com/ie.
[iv] Spiolto Respimat. SmPC. Available at: www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/6902/smpc. Last accessed November 2019.
[vii] Asthma Society of Ireland. Asthma Facts & Figures. Available at: www.asthma.ie/get-help/resources/facts-figures-asthma. Last accessed November 2019.
[viii] Health Service Executive. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) . Available at: www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/c/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/. Last accessed November 2019.
[ix] Government of Ireland. Health in Ireland Key Trends 2018. Available at: https://assets.gov.ie/9441/e5c5417ee4c544b384c262f99da77122.pdf. Last accessed November 2019.
[x] Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC). PSNC Briefing 064/16: Inhaler technique services. Available at: psnc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/PSNC-Briefing-064.16-Inhaler-technique-services.pdf. Last accessed November 2019.
[xi] Pharmacy Magazine. Optimising Inhaler Technique. Available at: www.pharmacymagazine.co.uk/ukcpa-optimising-inhaler-technique. Last accessed November 2019.
[xii] Central Statistics Office. Environmental Indicators Ireland 2019. Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change. Available at: www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-eii/eii19/greenhousegasesandclimatechange/. Last accessed November 2019.
[xiii] Hänsel M, et al. 2019. Reduced Environmental Impact of the Reusable Respimat® Soft MistTM Inhaler Compared with Pressurised Metered-Dose Inhalers. Adv Ther 36:2487-2492.